Sunday, April 26, 2009

Art Blog: PLANNING for Miracles

This is the busiest time of year for me. My day job is coming to an end. In fact, I count the days. In 26 business days, I will be FREE for 10 full weeks. When I say I will be “free”, I mean really free. I will not have any obligations other than to feed my dog and make art. That is a wonderful vision. So, it is OK with me, albeit stressful that the next 20+ days will be full of chaos due to the necessity to tie up loose ends.

I can’t wait until the first week of June. I spent last summer applying for new jobs. I am not going to do that this year. I have come to the realization I am meant to be where I am. Of course, the state of economy plays a role in this decision. However to be very honest, I don’t want to move away from my art house. Nor do I want to give up my current day job. This year, I realized I have the best of both worlds. I am an artist. I am an artist who teaches. I make more money (with benefits) than I would ever make trying to sell MY art (as is). The job I have now is so familiar and I am so good at it, it is easy for me. I just get up every day, go do my job, and then there is my studio time at the end of the day. I get to create stuff for seven hours a day. When I leave work, I am so dirty; it looks like I have been working in my studio all day. Also, I get lots of days off with pay. Yes, it can be stressful, but I have been handling that for 16 years now. I am not going to fold. I finally figured out, this isn’t a bad deal.

This year, I need every minute of the summer to paint. The reason this is so urgent is because I feel it coming. I know for sure, the stuff I am going to create in the next six months to a year is going to knock my socks off. I just know that. I see the progression of what is happening in my art life and my art mind. It is like I planned it this way. In some ways I did.

This is going to go down on record as the BEST time of my life. Finally, I have everything I need to be the artist I am. I have time, energy, money, security, and a very nice place to make it all happen. Just today, I just finished signing forms, primping art, making a FedEx shipping appointment, and packing it all to go to a show. This baby is going to Loooooouisiana! I love it. That’s another star for my United States exhibition chart! Whoopeeeeee! Good stuff is happening now and I deserve every bit of it! Yes. I planned all this. In a weird way, my past has led me to this point in my life. In other words, I was planning for miracles all along.

P.S. Speaking of my exhibition chart, does anybody in Hawaii want to show my art? I need a star on my chart for your state. LOL

Friday, April 24, 2009

Art Blog: Our ROOTS

Once I became an “official” artist with degrees, bodies of work, and art sales, I would also teach workshops or classes at art centers. This is how this teaching thing started. I would make art every day and then go teach a class or two on the weekends. This would help me get out of my studio, bring $$$ into my life, and allow me to teach the world about “HIGH” art! I concentrated my teaching lessons to all things related to NY/World contemporary fine art. That’s it! LOL You see, I had M.F.A. syndrome. This is when artists have a bad case of “Highfalootinitis”. I would never, ever, ever teach anything that was unworthy of my fine art world.

As the years have rolled on, I have changed. I have seen the light. I realize now I need to teach kids what they are interested in learning. I have taught severely emotionally disturbed students for 16 years. They don’t give a flying flip about Picasso or Puryear or any other high end, “famous”, modern/contemporary artists. They don’t. That is not about their world.

This change in me started with plastic lace. All the doors at my workplace are locked for security purposes. I have a whole ring of keys I carry each day. I saw some plastic lanyard lace and remembered how I made key chains as a child. I bought some to make a key chain for all my teaching keys. The kids went wild. They yelled, "I want to make that too!" So I bought more plastic lace (Some places they call it “gimp” and others they call it “boondoogle”.) Whatever you call it, it made my life so much happier and easy. The kids glom onto this stuff. They want to MAKE something. They are so focused while they are creating and feel so proud when it is done. There is this look on their faces that says "I made this!". I understand that look. This sounds good to me!

I started thinking about all this. I was amazed for a moment. Then, I remembered. This is how I got my start. When I was a very young girl, I lived right across the street from my elementary school. When the school was closed, there was a shed out back. It was the “Art Shed”. You could go there and buy supplies to make a project. The cost back then was minimal. I would take a quarter and purchase my supplies. I would then sit for hours and make SOMETHING! I couldn’t have been happier.

Thinking of these memories, I remembered the stuff I used to do. I would make little plaster sculptures poured into rubber molds. I would make fiber potholders all day long. My grandma had them all over her kitchen. As I reminisced, I realized these stupid, simple projects formed my roots. There is nothing wrong with just making things. I did all this as a child. I turned out just fine! LOL

When I was such a little girl, I made all kinds of crafty things. I wanted to MAKE stuff! It is just fine and dandy to encourage kids to do simple projects like this. You never know.
They might just turn into an artist like I did! LOL

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Art Blog: Artist SURVIVAL

You know, I have been a survivor all my life. I guess since I knew I was going to be an artist at the age of 4, I suppose I braced myself for the ride. All I know is it has worked. I have never been materialistic. I learned that very early. I just went about my business. I had what I had and didn’t long for other things. I knew my goal was to be an artist. Stuff and status was not my thing. I didn’t care what I had to give up in order for the wish to be an artist to come to fruition. I just did the work and lived on.

I lived the bohemian life for almost 20 years. I lived hand to mouth. I made a ton of art. I sold a ton of art too. It just didn’t pay ALL the bills. I scraped up enough money to go on weekend trips to Manhattan. I slept on art studio floors. I begged, borrowed, but did not steal to live my art life. I know I lived in a meager way. I felt very comfortable riding the subway dressed in a dirty T shirt at 3 AM in the morning. I did stuff like this with pride. In fact, I felt like I was living for a cause.

Things have changed now. I am still an artist. However, I have a day job now. As you all know, this is a Yin/Yang kind of proposition. I am far more economically stable, but I am still VERY frugal. Looking out on my patio right now, I see the steel bell I used for my “doorbell” when I lived on Third Ave. in Detroit. The building was basically a tenement. I had to walk to the third floor with groceries in hand while helping my toddler up all those stairs. There was no doorbell or anything that fancy. So I rigged up a steel bell outside my window with a very long rope leading to the ground floor. If I had visitors, they would pull the sisal rope and I would know to come down to let them into the building. Ahhhh, yes……This is an example of making do.

These are fond memories. I surely don’t want to go back there. However, I want to remind you all, your past predicts your future in a way. I don’t give a flying flip about the recession right now. WHY? Because I know what it is like to be dirt poor and do whatever you need to do to SURVIVE.
I have been there, done that!

This simple, metal bell has taught me a huge life lesson.
You need to do whatever it takes to make your dreams come true.
Sometimes, I go outside now and just RING this bell.
It reminds me for that which I believe.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Art Blog: Have You Bought Your PIXELS?

I bought pixels on The Rhizome 50,000 Dollar Webpage is trying to raise funds. They have created a webpage titled the “Rhizome 50,000 Dollar Webpage”. They are asking people to buy pixels. I did!
Pixels must be bought in 10 pixel x 10 pixel blocks (ie - 10x10, 40x100, 200 x 350, etc.) with each block costing $5. This is a great way to support this great organization. It is a cool project too! Check it out!

Click pic to go and learn more!
Buy some pixels!

Saturday, April 18, 2009


“There's a moment for everyone when you fall into your own shadow and the fact is that it's your shadow and you're forced to live in it. And this is nothing to celebrate or not celebrate. It simply is.” Robert Rauschenburg

I really wanted to start this post with a snappy quote by a female artist about aging. I couldn’t find one! I found a couple, but they weren’t appropriate for what I am about to say. I think the absence of such quotes says a whole lot. Why do you think art quotes by females about aging are hard to find? What do you think?

My little Facebook drama brought on the thought to write this post. The comment about how weird my photograph seemed to my new “friend” threw me for a loop. I still don’t know what she was talking about or what she meant. I assumed it was about aging because I have been hearing from others how I am starting to look old. LOL Regardless, I wasn’t in the mood to contact her and have a discussion about my weird looks. I just didn’t feel a conversation about this would be a healthy thing to do (for either of us).

I want to talk about the subject of aging and female appearance for a number of reasons. The first reason is because I just have to let all the negativity and baggage about this issue go. Also, I think we all need to think about it because none of us are immune. We all change over time. Hopefully, these changes are for the better. However our society is so youth oriented, it seems all things related to getting older are dirty and nasty.
This is just wrong.

This topic is far more difficult for women. I agree with Eva’s comment on my last blog post. She wrote:
“The conversation about how women look is never ending and it comes from women even more than it comes from men. It's actually not about how you look. The body and face of a woman is a game and it's open season. Look how much men are judged and measured in this way. Not nearly as much.”

I totally agree with her. The part that upsets me the most is that men are not always the most cruel judges. As women, we do it to ourselves and we should STOP! For example, when I cut off my hair recently, I continually got comments from women like “Oh, you look younger now or oh gosh, you took ten years off!” Well, OK. So did I really look like a snaggle toothed hag with long hair? Why couldn’t they just say “Oh, nice hair cut or I like your hair this way?” They responded this way because aging is on their minds. We have been brainwashed to the point in which we relate too many things to our age and how we look. If this is what you truly believe and you are lucky enough to live into your seventies, eighties, or nineties, you are going to be in big trouble or at least, a very unhappy senior citizen. In other words, your self esteem better come from a source other than your looks.

I have never been a girly girl. My looks have never been a driving force in my life. I have always been too busy and interested in other things. Being alone so much makes it easy for me to just go with the flow of the way I appear as the years roll by. In fact, I think that is why that Facebook comment hit me below the knees. I thought my photo was nice and A-OK! In fact, I still do! There is nothing wrong with the way I look. I am in my mid-50s sans Botox or plastic surgery. This is how I look. If you don’t like it, don’t look at me! I have so many things on my mind that are so much more important than any photograph or how many wrinkles popped up today. This is just silly. Besides, I have never found superficiality to be an attribute for which I admire.

I chose the Rauschenburg quote because I relate to it so much. Recently, I have come to the conclusion my life motto is: “It is what it is!” regarding who I am, the art I do, the things I write, and the person I want to be. I do walk in my own shadow and I love it. Others will always have their own opinions, but those opinions are more about their own thoughts and fears. They have nothing to do with me.

So I end this post with two quotes by female artists which made me think and laugh.

“I never feel age... If you have creative work, you don't have age or time.” Louise Nevelson

"You should keep on painting no matter how difficult it is, unless it kills you, and then you know you have gone too far." Alice Neel

What WOULD they say? I have a feeling any one of them would say:
“Sheree, just SHUT UP and go make art!”

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Art Blog: Facebook FREAKOUT

I just got a notice that someone “befriended” me on Facebook. I accepted her friendship. Her first comment to me was:

“Sheree your picture is weird - it does not look like you”

I took her comment to heart. I just sat there and looked at this comment on my Facebook page. To be honest, it hurt my feelings. I am not appreciating my looks lately. I am dealing with the aging thing and trying really hard to pretend it doesn’t matter. (Catch me later to find out how this attitude adjustment pans out!)

My first action after reading her words was to change my picture. I did that. Then, I saw the comment sitting there glaring at me. This comment hurt me. I am not even sure what she meant. However, the true, WEIRD thing is this comment came from a person who knew me back in the late 70’s. Ahhhhhhhhhh…….OK. Let me do the math. That was thirty years ago. Now I ask all of you: Do you look the SAME as you did thirty years ago?

I thought not.

This brings me to the point of this post. I hate FACEBOOK. I signed on, created my profile, and started to connect with people. It has done nothing for me except waste my time. I have been invited to join groups for which I have no interest. I have been poked and prodded asking me to do this and that. All my “FRIENDS” are people who I knew back in Detroit. They weren’t my friends when I lived there. Most of them wouldn’t give me the time of day back then. This is very interesting to me. So why would we be “friends” now? I have no clue.

It isn’t just Facebook. I have the same thoughts about other internet social networking sites. In the past few years, I have been left nonplussed. I hop on web bandwagons because I want to be a part of the action. I want to be knowledgeable. I want to be a part of the “in” thing. However, I don’t really see the Yin/Yang of these endeavors. I see me jumping to do what is required to be a part of the action. There is very little reciprocal, positive response or outcome. I have come to a point in which I need to weed out dead wood and refine my internet experiences. At least, I want to optimize the energy and time I spend on sites. I am looking for a “bang for my buck”. Maybe for those who are social by nature, venues like FACEBOOK work. I am not or never have been a social butterfly by a long shot. I am a card carrying, bona fide loner. Therefore, I just don’t see the point for me to use these sites and don’t see any benefit. I truly believe some of you who read this will relate. If we weigh out our output and then weigh the input of our internet adventures, we might decide to make an adjustment. This is why I deleted my FACEBOOK account.

They won’t miss me; nor I them.

I still use TWITTER. I love this. For me, Twitter is more about information and spontaneous relationships. I relate it to posts about “breaking news”. I like this. If you follow the people in your interest area, Twitter can be very fun, exciting, and WORTHWHILE. This is what I am looking for right now. I want to feel like my time and effort is being used in an optimal manner.
I don't think this is is a bad aspiration.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Art Blog: Is ART a LUXURY?

It is time for little Sheree to jump up on her soapbox!
OOOoooh, I must be at least 5’ tall now. Wow, what a view! LOL
OK, here I go opening my mouth again!

You are not going to find anyone who is a bigger champion of the arts. I will shout to the rafters and dance in the streets to praise the arts. I am a fervent arts advocate and will fight tooth and nail to defend creativity. However, I have been thinking about art and money a lot lately. I have read countless articles about arts organizations slicing budgets, museums handing pink slips to their staff, and galleries closing their doors. This makes my heart ache.

We all know times are very hard right now. The other day I was flipping through channels and I stopped to watch a news report about a county hospital in Nevada closing an outpatient cancer clinic due to budget cuts.

“Recently thousands of letters went out across Las Vegas telling cancer patients that the only public hospital in the state was closing its outpatient clinic for chemotherapy.”

The news story was nearly unbelievable. Crying patients told the reporter how there was no place to turn for help. I found myself thinking “This can’t be happening in America!” The chemotherapy provided at this clinic is a matter of life and death for these patients. Without insurance or public help, most will die. Some people were literally turned away at the door when they showed up for their chemo appointment. The story mentioned there is an alternative facility if you are very, very poor. Also if you are rich, you can find ways to pay for treatments. Most of the people being affected are the average Jane/Joe making less than $60K per year without medical insurance. In other words, people in the lower, middle class are the targets. Those interviewed told of scrambling to search for help only to be told “sorry” or “oh well…” while their life time clock was ticking loudly.
This just isn’t right.

Today the big art news story here in Florida is featured in the St. Petersburg Times. Some politicos are trying to ax the state’s art budget. The lawmakers want to end the public funding of art. I looked at the story and I wasn’t outraged or upset. I expected this.

I cannot imagine life without art. However in times like these, we all have to make sacrifices. There will always be art with or without government funding. Even so, we must realize these budget cuts are not forever. I know for sure the pendulum always swings back. Brighter times will be in our future and arts funding will flourish someday again. Of course, the current losses of any art funding is sad. However, nobody is going to die because of it. Right now, it is time to GET REAL.

Click to see detail view

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Art Blog: Guaranteed SMILE!

With this post, I guarantee a smile, maybe tears of joy, and even a probable batch of goose bumps! We all know SIMON from "American Idol". He is also a judge on "Britains Got Talent 2009". Well, you can see his face below as he interrogates 47 Year old Susan Boyle BEFORE she sang. If you watch the video, you will see she doesn't look like star material. The audience even laughed all through her pre-audition interview. Watch this. Believe me, Simon's expression changes as soon as she opens her mouth to sing!

Click to watch this amazing, sweet, and wonderful moment!
GO SUSAN!!!! Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Art Blog: Philip Glass / Candy Jernigan

“What came to me as a revelation was the use of rhythm in developing an overall structure in music.” Philip Glass

The PBS “American Masters” series broadcast a documentary about Philip Glass this week. The film was superb and jaw dropping. I have always loved the music of Glass. For me, his work is magical and transcendent. However to have a glimpse of his work process and everyday life is beyond interesting and amazing. I could go on and on about how this documentary is fabulous. It was so enlightening. You really need to see it to understand. Just watching him compose music is seeing genius at work. Watch your local PBS listings or order the film. It is well worth the time and effort.

One thing that really hit me while viewing was the revelation of his obsessive nature. He composes every day. Everything he does becomes life ephemera related to his art. Even the quote written above is proof of this continual search. He has been driven by using rhythm as his thesis for more than 50 years of creating. He makes no apologies. He basically shuts a good portion of the world out. He has been married many times. It seems he wants a partner, but his true lover is his music. This is sad in a way, but I understand this. I really do.

Among the Glass wives was Candy Jernigan. Tragically, she died of liver cancer at the very young age of 39. She too was a brilliant artist. My interest was perked while listening to the interviews in the film telling about her life and art. For the past few days, I have been reading about her and looking at her work online.

The thing that pulls me toward her work is that same obsessive nature. She made art about her daily life. She would collect the most common and/or unusual ephemera and document it through multiple media. I find the work so beautiful and fascinating. Yet what is even more interesting to me is the compulsion to do this work. I long for this kind of drive to appear within me EVERY day.
Screw the rest of the world.

A photo and the work of Candy Jernigan

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Art Blog: Who Are YOU?

I have often made comments on this blog about being very happy with my age. I can honestly say I would not want to be any younger unless I could “know then what I know now”. I will gladly take the wrinkles for the wisdom. The knowledge and comfort with myself has been a long time coming. Finally, it is here. I love it.

This post is aimed at artists, but it can be applied to anyone. These words are meant for women, but they could fit some men’s lives too. Something happened yesterday that reminded me how thankful I am to know myself so well. I love the understanding I have for life. I know who I am. For the most part, I know what I want. I figured out if I don’t like it, I don’t do it anymore. I realize now, I deserve good things and great happiness. I want joy in my life and I do the things that will bring that bliss. I stay away from life situations that will bring me discomfort or misery to my life. There was a time when I didn’t really understand the very basic concept: “I am worth it!”

Too frequently, women give away their heart, soul, and identity. They willingly forget about themselves in order to please other people. Sometimes it happens when we enter relationships. I know about this. It has happened to me. In fact, it happens to many of us. Does this sound familiar? I remember a time when I fell in “love” and pretty much put art on hold for a couple of years. I still worked on my art, but not much. Instead, I sat on sports arena bleachers for hours, days, and months on end. It was all for him. Ironically, I HATE sports! I hate being in any kind of audience. I am a doer, not a watcher. I don’t blame him. I did it willingly. I sat there and sat there and sat there because I had given myself away.
I will repeat: I gave MYSELF away.

In no way am I advocating for anyone to remain alone. I am not suggesting that at all. I just want to remind everyone to be true to yourself first. Know who you are and hold onto it at all costs. Luckily, I have always had my art as many of you do too. When the bleacher boy decided to ditch me after three years, I was devastated. However, I already knew my true self was an artist. Also after this experience, I realized I learned a huge life lesson which is to never put myself second ever again. I learned to keep my own life. I learned to make my own friends. I learned to have my own money and stuff. I learned to always have a backup plan in case of unexpected life changes. I felt lucky it only took me three years to learn this and not a lifetime. I learned that being in a relationship is like the dessert in your life. It can be great and delicious. We just have to make sure we understand our own identity is the main course. Listen to me now. Hopefully, it won’t take decades for you to figure this out.

”Mine” by Sheree Rensel
Acrylic on Canvas
Click for detail view

Just remember to do what makes you happy. However, if someone comes along and tempts you to give yourself away, say
“NO! I am MINE!”

Monday, April 6, 2009

Art Blog: Artists Changing the World

This is a hard post. In fact, it might be one of the hardest things I have ever written.

In my early artist years, I made art which dealt with social issues. I felt this direction was important. However, I stopped doing that kind of art. If you do art that is controversial, you have to be able to take the heat that comes with it. Apparently, I wasn’t strong enough. I got tired of the finger pointing.

Ironically about the same time I gave up that genre of art work, I took a day job that was all about social issues. I work with kids that are more than “at risk”. Most of my kids come from life situations that are so awful and unspeakable; it is hard to imagine life can be this way. But, it can be.

My day job is a true love/hate relationship. Some days I can't believe they pay me to do this. Other days, I wonder why I am wasting my time. Lately, I have had a reoccurring flashback of Frida Kahlo's painting titled ”A Few Small Nips”. You know the one. She is laying with all kinds of little (life) cuts all over her body. This is the way I feel right now.

I get emotionally attached to my kids. I have taught some of my students for YEARS. This is a very sticky wicket. It is like a mama bird pushing her babies out of the nest. "Fly little bird, fly!" Sometimes my birds do fly albeit just to the next little tree. However all too often, my students have a miserable ending. They land crumpled on the ground. No matter how much I want a positive outcome, I don't have enough time or control in their lives to make a true difference. Just this year, one of my kids died in a really stupid accident. One kid was arrested for burglarizing a bar (less than 500 feet from the police station) DUH!!! Yet another was arrested and sentenced for armed robbery in a pharmacy heist. The list could go on and on.

Then today, my heart sank. One of the kids I have taught for years and years was arrested for murder. Allegedly the story goes; he (and others) drove by a house and sprayed it with more than 50 bullets with an automatic weapon. One bullet hit a little girl sleeping on the living room couch inside the house. She was only 8 years old.

I saw my student's mug shot. I also saw a video of his arrest. This is such a bizarre feeling. I HATE what he (allegedly) did. I feel so sorry for the baby who was murdered. My heart is torn up beyond words! I can't get the whole scenario out of my mind. The entire event is so horrible; it surpasses my grasp on reality.

I feel so useless. My emotions are so mixed. I am an artist. I willingly work with these kids in hopes of some kind of positive result. I always hope their lives will change via ART. Maybe it does. Maybe it does not. This is such a difficult thing to assimilate. I mean, I look at his eyes. “He” is still there. I know him. That person I know would never do something so awful. However, I don't know him in the real world. There is this lingering feeling. I can’t help but think my work as an artist/ educator and my attempts to expose him to the art of life means nothing. Didn’t I have any effect on this kid’s life?

I have realized today, even though I gave my all,
I cannot change the world.

What else is there to say other than this is beyond a sad revelation?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Art Blog: Go Ask ALICE (Neel)

I gave myself permission to relax this weekend. I decided to entertain myself with one of my art video marathons. I love watching videos about art. I have a growing library which specializes in contemporary artists. I watched one video three times! I just bought it. It is a documentary about artist Alice Neel.

Clic pic for more info

Alice Neel is another artist on my list of favorites. I love the way she painted. I love her attitude and personality. I love looking at her. I just LOVE Alice Neel! From what I have learned via books and video, Alice and I share a lot of similar traits. I feel a kinship with her. I am a fan of artist biographies for this very reason. Learning some of the truth about an artist’s life makes them more human and jerks them down from an imaginary pedestal.

This documentary is especially enlightening. Produced by her grandson, Andrew Neel, it tells a lot of truth about Alice’s life. Some of it isn’t flattering! The film interviews Alice’s two sons, other relatives, friends, and some of her “models”. Art critic types provide an ample supply of historical commentary. The art blah, blah, blah is far less interesting than the personal stories told by her sons and close friends.

While watching Alice schlep around her cramped N.Y. apartment studio in her frumpy oversized smock and crack wise with visitors, it occurred to me how many of us glamorize and romanticize artist’s lives. We only see the end result. They might be celebrated in the media or have a tremendous retrospective, but that is (usually) after the culmination of many difficult years of struggling. Alice didn’t sell much work in her lifetime at all. She lived hand to mouth for decades. She even had to draw welfare when her children were small. In fact, her life wasn’t a bed of roses by a long shot. The loss of two children and resulting psychological issues remained with her throughout her life. Alice kept painting through all kinds of very tumultuous times. She didn’t get much recognition until the very end of her life. Regardless, she was obsessed with her art. This is why I love and respect her so much.

I would love to have known her. I think we would have hit it off very well. In my fantasies, I can imagine having conversations with her. If I was ever in a jam or needed an answer to a question, I would love to be able to say:
“Well, I will just go ask ALICE!”
It is so nice to dream!

ADDENDUM: Be forewarned! As stated in my “Art Couples” post, I am making it my business to learn as much as possible about the artists on my creative couples list.

This is a great video if you want to learn about Leon Golub. If you are looking for info on Nancy Spero, don’t buy this video. She and her work are mentioned very briefly here. Leon is the star of the show. Gee, what a surprise. I just wonder why they titled this video as such. It is a misrepresentation! The DVD is worth having and I love Golub’s work. However, I am on a mission to learn more about the female artists on my list. Watching this video was frustrating. I kept yelling at the screen; let’s get to the Nancy part! Well, her “part” never came. Hmmmmmmm……

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Art Blog: Break the REAR VIEW MIRROR

Call me romantic. Call me an idiot. Call me whatever. I am an artist immersed in my art life. Every day, every event, and every moment is related to art in some way. I have made it that way. It is intentional. I am lucky. I have carved and honed this situation to a precise fit. It has been a long time coming. I am a free art bird. I love and deserve every minute of it.

Consequently each day as I work in my studio, teach, or partake in my leisure activities (internet, TV, occasional movie), I take every morsel of information and apply it to my life as an artist. I can’t help it. I am that driven.

I love Suze Orman. My only regret and frustration is I don’t have the financial “numbers” worthwhile enough for her to crunch. I am not in the Orman league. Yet, I still love to listen to her and dream. I have made progress with my meager funds. I can remember a time twenty years ago, I would pull up to an ATM machine and ask for $10. I would see that dreaded message on the screen “Declined for insufficient funds”. Things are much different now. I have much more of an income. However, my bills have increased exponentially.

Therefore, it is important I pay attention to my past and present. My current focus is learning to be money wise. I have stopped wasting so much money. This is quite a feat. I have been frugal all my life. To this day, I rarely eat out or turn on my air conditioning or heat. Hardly, ever! However, I do buy more STUFF (art books/videos) than I need or even want. I have taken her advice and at least, started to become aware of what I spend and how I can cut back.

I saw Suze on Oprah the other day. I listened, learned, and applied it to my art life. She spoke of not looking in the rear view mirror. Don’t look back on what you have HAD. Instead, look at what you HAVE now. Of course, she was talking about money and economic substance. I turned it around. I am an artist with a history. In fact, I have already had a pretty great art life compared to many artists. I have been in galleries. I have sold a lot of art. I have met famous artists. I have trolled around SoHo. I have had studio visits by Jaquar driving collectors. I have been a minnow in a medium sized art pond. Yet, none of this past experience matters. What matters is what is happening now in my art life. I need to shatter that rear view mirror and move on. I am doing that. I am interested in the new. I am interested in 2009 and beyond. I am interested in my current art life and trying to figure out how I can make it PAY OFF.
Right Suze?

If you keep looking in the rear view mirror while driving, you are not focusing on what is going on in front of your car. Be careful. LOOK ahead.
Otherwise, you will CRASH!
I have learned this.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Art Blog: Life by the BATCH

Every Sunday morning, I have a set routine. I get up, feed the dog, turn on the TV and wait for the show “Sunday Morning” to come on. During the wait, I usually log on to my computer to check email, read tweets, and mentally plan my day. During the wait, I turn the sound down on the TV until my show starts because the sermons of Joel Olsteen are broadcast just before “Sunday Morning”. I have nothing against Olsteen or religion. I just have my own beliefs that seem to work for me.

For some reason this past Sunday, I left the sound up on the TV while waiting for my show to start. I wasn’t really listening until I heard the words “Chocolate Chip Cookies” Yeah. That got my attention! LOL Olsteen spoke of an analogy between life and this sweet treat. I stopped typing and listened.

This is my version and perception of his analogy. He said that if your life isn’t going well at any given moment, we shouldn’t get upset or see it with eyes of doom. Life is broken up into segments. Each part plays a role in the creation of the whole. We need to see the portions of our life in totality. Each event acts as an ingredient to the final product. After hearing this, I perked up and listened more.

He went on to say that if we had all the ingredients for making cookies and ate them one by one, it would taste awful! Can you imagine eating a plain cup of flour and chasing it with a raw egg? Oh yes, the sugars or chocolate morsels might be tasty, but the vanilla extract taken alone would taste nasty! Yet, when you combine all the ingredients together and bake them, you get this delicious end product: chocolate chip cookies.

I have been thinking about this analogy all week long. I really see the truth in it. So from now on when I am having a crappy day or week, I am going to try to remind myself to spit out the teaspoon of baking soda!
I need to be patient until my art life BATCH gets out of the oven!


Original NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Chocolate Chip Cookies
• 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar
• 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 large eggs
• 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
• 1 cup chopped nuts

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Art Blog: Art by CHANCE

"If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all."
John Cage

As stated in my sidebar, my mission here is to speak on the emotional and psychological issues of being an artist. This is what I know best. At least, I want to admit that being an artist isn’t all lollipops and rainbows (Is it ever? LOL). I guess I get jealous sometimes hearing artists’ cheerful pronouncements of their newest work or art venue offerings. Sometimes I just want to glare at the computer screen and tell them to go suck an egg! I think I must take all this art stuff far too seriously. I need to lighten up.

I have been working in my studio for the past few days and I have accomplished NOTHING. It has been brutal. I am miserable. I have painted and then painted over what I painted. I have drawn and scribbled over what I have drawn. I have made huge messes in my studio and every room of my house. I even have canvases strewn all over my living room couch cushions.

It is all shit.

This is my own fault. Between trying to paint in ways I am not meant to paint, constant brain chatter, and spewing negative energy all over the place, it isn’t surprising I am getting nowhere fast. Many of you will understand what I mean. Artists need to go through passages like this to get to the good stuff.

In my early twenties, I was fortunate enough to meet and talk with John Cage. He was visiting the Detroit area and one of my professors invited him over to our tiny, academic, art studio. In retrospect, I can’t believe he came. In his honor, we prepared a huge, collaborative portrait and hung it outside the studio door. As he walked toward the studio, he smiled broadly, introduced himself to us, and sat to chat. He spoke of his music and life as a composer. He explained his work with I Ching and CHANCE music. At that time, I didn’t understand what the hell he was talking about despite his attempts to clarify his philosophies. (Youth is wasted on the young. - George Bernard Shaw)

Today I was thinking about dear Mr. Cage. The reason he was on my mind is because I realized I am trying to force the art out of me. I am thinking and planning too much. I still don’t thoroughly understand John Cage’s methods. However, I do relate to the underlying premise. Don’t worry, I am not going to run out and buy a copy of the I Ching! I just need to remember to let it happen. It is what it is. I need to let my art make itself. At least for now, I need to make art by CHANCE.

"I have nothing to say / and I am saying it / and that is poetry / as I needed it"
John Cage
Thank you Mr. Cage.